Monday, May 31, 2010

Nathaniel Coe

I was looking for Scipio information in old newspapers on, thinking I could find some of the articles written by William Wooden as I mentioned a few blogs ago. I haven't found them yet, but I did find an interesting article I wanted to share.
One of Scipio's very first settlers was Joel Coe, also a Revolutionary War veteran. He is one of 9 veterans buried in our Cornwell Cemetery, purportedly the oldest cemetery in Cayuga County.
The Thursday, October 20, 1960 edition of the Nunda News has an article about some of Joel's family. Nunda is a town in Livingston County, NY, several miles from Cayuga County.
Written under the title of “Woman Says” with a byline of M. C. F., here is the majority of that article:
The appointment as US Mail Agent for the Oregon territory brought honor to the Nunda man who received it soon after the territory was opened for settlement. He was Nathaniel Coe, who was given the appointment in 1851 by President Millard Fillmore. As many of you know, Millard Fillmore was born in Summerhill, Cayuga County and it is not unlikely he knew the Coes personally.
Born in September of 1788 in Chester, NJ, Nathaniel was the son of Joel and Huldah Horton Coe. The family settled in Scipio in Cayuga County, NY in 1795, paying a shilling an acre for 640 acres of land to which Joel said he had veteran’s rights. The trip from NJ to Scipio took a month. The family lived there until 1818 when they came to the section of Nunda that is now known as Portage. Nathaniel then was 20 and he immediately became one of the prominent young men of the area.
The wording gets pretty flowery here, but the article goes on to say that Nathaniel worked as a schoolteacher and a surveyor, and operated a general store for a time. He also was a supervisor of the town, and a justice of the peace, and served four terms as a NYS Assemblyman.
Nathaniel also spent 8 years in New Orleans as a teacher, going by boat all the way from Olean, NY with a brother and a friend. In 1828, he returned to NY and married Mary Taylor White, daughter of Lawrence Emery White of Auburn, Cayuga County, NY.
Nathaniel then operated a general store in Oakland NY with a partner, moving his family to Nunda a few years later.
According to the article Nathaniel first went to Portland, Oregon, by way of the Isthmus of Panama, eventually homesteading on the Columbia River at the mouth of the Hood River. The article mentions two sons, Lawrence and Eugene, and states that they were the first white men to navigate the turbulent waters of the Columbia River above The Dalles, where a huge dam had recently been built.
Nathaniel apparently sent back many communications to Nunda for publication, that described life in Oregon in those times of Lewis & Clark. Nathaniel died in Oregon October 17, 1868. One son is known to have returned to NY, and that was Henry Clay Coe for a visit in 1908.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mama Hattie Post

If you lived on Wyckoff Road in the early 20th century, then you know who I mean when I speak of Mama Hattie.
And if you knew Mama Hattie, then you knew how good a cook she was. I still remember the day I was apparently considered old enough to walk to Mama Hattie's house by myself to visit. I was probably about 10 years old. I'm sure my mother had spoken with her to make sure my visit was alright, because when I entered the kitchen the aroma of fresh-baked cookies hit my nose. I sat down with Mama Hattie and over a glass of fresh-from-the -barn milk and her homemade cookies, we visited. I felt very grown-up that day, and there were many more visits to Mama Hattie's kitchen through the years.
Imagine how pleased I was when looking through Winifred Cowles Glanville's collected notes to find one recipe. It must have been her very favorite, since there were no other recipes in the booklet. It was labelled simply Brown Bread, Mrs. Post.
Since Winifred's Christmas card list is part of her booklet, I looked at the names and the only Posts were Mr. and Mrs. Otto Post. And Mrs. Otto Post was Mama Hattie! Now I haven't tried making this recipe yet, but rest assured that I will soon. I thought you might like to try it as well.

Brown Bread, Mrs. Post:
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups of buttermilk or sour milk
2 tablespoons of shortening
1 1/2 cups of white flour
2 teaspoons of soda
some salt
whole wheat or graham flour, about 2 cups
raisins - a cup or whatever you want - dates etc.
Makes 2 loaves. Cook about 3/4 hour in moderate heat

William D. Wooden

It always amazes me that so many people are willing to preserve our history. I recently had the opportunity to look at a scanned and bound booklet of notes and information that had belonged to Winifred Cowles Glanville of Fleming, NY. This information had been gathered by a local family who found it at a barn sale in the 1960's. Fleming is adjacent to Scipio, and I found some Scipio names and information.
Chief among them was Winifred's notes regarding William D. Wooden. She states he lived in (Great) Lot 20, with a Post Office address of Scipioville. Apparently William wrote articles concerning early history of Cayuga County that were published on a weekly basis in the Cayuga County Independent in 1874.
Winifred's notes tell me that he also authored a historical sketch of Scipioville and vicinity that was published in the Auburn Daily Advertiser, the Auburn Journal and the Moravia Citizen in 1877.
I knew I had heard this name before so I took a look in Storke's 1879 History of Cayuga County and in the Scipio section on page 422 I found him. The entire page was given over to a lengthy article, a picture of William and one of his wife. Her name is not given other than as Mrs. Wm. D. Wooden. The pictures are of an older couple and the article states he is in his 77th year; as William was married twice it is likely this is his second wife who he married in 1857.
The article beneath the pictures is a thorough biography of William's life and work. It tells us he was born in Fishkill, NY in 1802 and came to Scipio in 1814 with his family. He was a teacher for several years in the area, beginning at age 16, and a prolific writer as well as a farmer. Many of the names mentioned as his students are familiar as early Scipio settlers - names such as Benoni Smith, Calvin Tracy, Wm. Howland and E. B. King to mention a few.
William was proud of his record of voting in every election and never missed a town meeting. The article gives a very good picture of a man of firm beliefs and actions.
Now I will visit to see if I can find any of William Wooden's articles about Scipioville!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Landowners in 1799 Scipio

So far I have leafed through the assessment records for 1799 in Scipio. It is amazing to see that so many folks came here in those very early pioneer days, when survival depended on planting and harvesting food before winter set in, while building some type of dwelling to keep out the bears and the snow with few tools other than muscle power.
There are a few smudges, but it looks like the total taxes owed on real and personal property in 1799 amounted to $236.82. Using the Consumer Price Index I found at, that would be equivalent to $4,260.00 in 2009.
Many of the names are familiar. There are Allens, Browns, Adkins, Delano, and several others I have seen mentioned. Olney, Tracy, Strong, Eddy, and many other names familiar from the Revolutionary War are sprinkled among the entries. There are also several pieces of property listed with owner unknown; maybe as yet unclaimed. What an interesting look at our town this promises to be!

Early Assessment Records

I recently spent some time looking through the information available at the NYS Archives in Albany. I think it's time for another visit! I did find they held the assessment records for Scipio (and many other towns in Cayuga County) for 1799 to 1803. Scipio became part of Cayuga County in 1799. It is also when the Revolutionary War veterans were moving here to claim their land. The first census record for Scipio is the 1800 census; before that documentation is pretty sketchy for who was a resident.
I sent for copies of the microfilm records and received 100 pages. At a cost of twenty-five cents a page that was quite a bargain!
I plan to compare the assessments to the list of names from the balloting book, to see how many of those veterans who drew land in Scipio were among those residing here in those early years.
For those other Historians or just plain interested folks, you can order the records from the Archives through inter library loan to your local library. If they have a microfilm reader and printer, you can review and print whatever you like. The series is B0950 Tax Assessment Rolls of real and personal estates for Cayuga County.
Unfortunately, my library does not have either a reader or a printer so I elected to use some of my budget to pay for printed copies of all 5 years.
All hand-written, some of the names are difficult to make out as are older census records. The name, Great Lot number, acreage and real and personal property values are given in most cases. Some of the records mention whether there is a house, a house and farm, or just a lot. Land on the Indian Reservation is separately accounted for.
From this list, it will be possible to determine pretty nearly where property owners resided in Scipio's early days.